The Direct Primary Care (DPC) practice model is still relatively new. With a payment structure that is completely different than the insurance-focused traditional practice, new DPCs may have to market their practice to build their patient panels. Part of the attraction of the DPC, of course, is for the independent physician to be able to see fewer patients than in a traditional practice; however, patients do still have to be attracted to the DPC for it to be successful.
Education may be the first challenge and the primary strategy in a DPC’s marketing efforts. The Wall Street Journal reports that “less than 2% of the nation’s 900,000 licensed physicians are involved in direct primary care to date” (as of February 2017). The concept is new and many patients might be hesitant when it sounds like too good a deal.
A patient may pay as little as $60 a month for complete access to the primary care provider, including communication during and between visits, with no co-pays or deductibles. A DPC’s marketing efforts will need to educate potential patients on the value, and possibly the legitimacy, of the structure.
One excellent way to promote the practice is through word-of-mouth. Patient referrals are hands-down the best way to market a practice as well as an excellent way to educate and reassure potential patients. Testimonials from those patients who have taken advantage of the DPC structure and enjoy the results they are seeing from it will do more to market the practice than any amount of paid advertising.
Effective patient engagement within the practice will become a popular topic for testimonials, spread through word-of-mouth and posted on the practice website. Social media posts can also help market the practice. Again, having current patients help spread the word through social media can reinforce the trustworthiness of the message.
Building a low-cost marketing plan into a DPC’s practice management plan can be as easy as providing quality care to current patients and asking them to help spread the word.